With the Fukudome signing and the trade of Miguel Tejada to the Astros, suddenly people are clamoring not only for Brian Roberts, but for Eric Bedard as well. Not only would the Orioles never move both of their remaining valuable pieces in one deal, but the Cubs wouldn’t have the kind of package needed to get them. Something that people aren’t factoring into the equation is that when you’re a team like Baltimore, you have a small window to get it right. Seeing that they really only have a few somewhat valuable chips left, it’s important to maximize their return on said chips. That being said, Eric Bedard is more valuable and would be more expensive simply because of the team he would be coming to. Factor in the the fact that he throws left-handed and is under 30 and you have a guy that could possibly be valued as high as a Carlos Zambrano on the open market. We just don’t have the resources to get a guy like that, and as I’ve continued to maintain all off-season, we do not need another starting pitcher. I’ve got some numbers for you.

For the sake of argument, I took a look at the five starters that pitched the most innings for each Major League team last year and ranked them in order of their ERA+, or adjusted ERA as it’s sometimes referred to as. Basically ERA+ is as follows:

Adjusted ERA+, often simply abbreviated to ERA+, is a statistic in baseball. It adjusts a pitcher’s ERA according to the pitcher’s ballpark (does it favor batters or pitchers) and the ERA of the pitcher’s league. Average is set to be 100; a score above 100 indicates the pitcher performed better than average, below 100 indicates worse than average.For instance, if the average ERA in the league is 4.00, and the pitcher is pitching in a ballpark that favors hitters, and his ERA is 4.00, then his ERA+ will be over 100. However, if the average ERA in the league is 3.00, and the pitcher is pitching in a ballpark favoring pitchers, and the pitcher’s ERA is 3.50, then the pitcher’s ERA+ will be (significantly) below 100.

As a result, ERA+ is a good way of comparing pitchers’ performances across different run environments. In the above example, the first pitcher has performed better than the second pitcher, but his ERA is higher. ERA+ corrects this misleading impression. – (Source)

So we see that anything over 100 is considered league average and below is considered below average. Jeff Sackman of the Hardball Times did several research based posts in December of 2006 and found that ordinarily, most teams struggle with production from not only the 5th spot in the rotation, but from the 4th spot as well. In fact, here were his findings as to the average ERA for the five spots in the rotation.

Lg      #1      #2      #3      #4      #5
MLB     3.60    4.14    4.58    5.10    6.24
AL      3.70    4.24    4.58    5.09    6.22
NL      3.51    4.04    4.57    5.11    6.26

As you can see, teams tend to struggle greatly from the back end of the rotation, and my data shows the same. When we look at the ERA+ for each team by spot in the rotation, a number of things jumped out at me. I’ve highlighted the MLB leader for those spots in the rotation for easy viewing.

When I took at look at this data, it confirmed what I already knew and have been trying to convince people of all year. Our rotation is fine. It’s better than fine, it’s almost the best in baseball.

  • We were one of two teams that boasted all five starters with an ERA+ over 100, Toronto being the other.
  • When you averaged the ERA+ from the five spots, we ranked 3rd in baseball with an average of 116.
  • We are below the ML average from the # 1 spot, which most would not question, but it’s the only position we were below the ML average. Every other spot was at least 5 points over, and our 5th spot was 18 points over the average, good for 2nd in all of baseball.
  • Our # 1 starter, oddly enough, was not Carlos Zambrano, but rather Ted Lilly. Zambrano was 2nd right? Wrong, he actually came in 4th behind Rich Hill and Sean Marshall. That same Sean Marshall that everyone keeps mentioning in trade talks.I’m convinced that starting pitching is not a need for this club. With the five that are listed and guys like Kevin Hart and Sean Gallagher waiting in the wings, we’re in very good shape for next year.

    Additional Reading

  • How Good is Your #4 Starter? – Jeff Sackman (December 27, 2006)
  • More Fun With Rotation Numbers – Jeff Sackman (December 29, 2006)
  • Another Look at Starting Rotations – Jeff Sackman (January 17, 2007)
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    Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail